Attending a gig at the Shacklewell Arms is like taking part in a hipster
circle jerk; waving mockingly at the musical zeitgeist with one hand and
tossing yourself off with the other.
For the uninitiated, this Dalston institution is a sort of ground zero for
breaking new bands and even newer haircuts.
Tonight I’m here for the bimonthly mini-fest Repeater, with Gentle Friendly topping the bill.
The duo have actually been on the go since 2007, releasing their debut LP
‘Ride Slow’ in 2009. Gentle Friendly On that basis it’s natural to wonder why they’re still putting in a shift at the Shacklewell Arms.
The answer is that their music was and remains unabashedly impenetrable; a maelstrom of punk rhythms, suicide-style electronics and heavily treated vocals.
On record everything has time to coalesce into some kind of form but live, it all just seems to Gentle Friendly collapse in on itself.
Angel Haze’s DJ whips up the crowd in anticipatory hype before she bounds onto the stage to a sea of applause.
Opening with the R&Bsmothered ‘Sing About Me’, this is soon followed by the grizzly rapidfire assault of E.P breakthrough track, Gentle Friendly ‘Werkin’ Girls’.
Backed by drums, guitar and live DJ, the show is surprisingly – and pleasantly raw; far closer to a rock show, full of thundering drums and stage-shaking performances,
far from the notably glossier, poppier sounds found shimmering throughout her debut album.
Haze is a serious force. As a singer she is great, as a rapper she is exquisite the speed, precision and fluidity with which words spew from her impassioned cry is staggering.
For anyone who misses the early days grit and menace of Angel Haze on her debut LP, it is brought blisteringly back to form on stage.
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